Many of the top employers for the University of Iowa’s industrial engineers have already or are currently expanding into the global market. Rockwell Collins is an international company. John Deere has factories and affiliates in several countries. Both Accenture and the Eaton Corporation are multinational suppliers with headquarters in Ireland, and many General Mills facilities are located overseas. Since it is likely that your future career will require you to communicate and work within various cultural contexts, it’s important to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity.
To aid you in coordinating study abroad with your major requirements, this page offers advice about when to study abroad as an industrial engineering major (see the “Timing” tab), how to fulfill your academic requirements abroad (see “Academics”), and how to choose a study abroad program best suited to your needs (see “Programs”)
As an industrial engineering major, there are many study abroad options available to you. From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year direct enrollment in an international university, there are plenty of opportunities for you to pursue both your academic and extracurricular interests abroad.
Because international experience is so important for engineering students, a fair amount of funding is available to engineering majors interested in study abroad. Information about scholarships offered through International Programs and through the College of Engineering is provided under the “Considerations” tab. Additionally, the “Programs” tab—which includes information about study abroad, internship, and research programs geared toward engineering majors—lists a few opportunities that come with funding.
In general, the best time for industrial engineering students to study abroad is during their third and/or fourth semesters in the program (typically your sophomore year). With proper planning, studying abroad during your junior year is also possible. Students unable to study abroad during the academic year are encouraged to participate in off-semester programs (programs offered during winter, spring, and/or summer break). If you are pursing a joint BS/MS degree the first semester of your fifth year is also a good time to study abroad.
Though not impossible, it is recommended that you don’t study abroad during your senior year. If you do plan to study abroad as a senior, keep in mind that the courses you take during your senior year are typically offered fall-only or spring-only. Also keep in mind that all industrial engineering students are required to complete a senior design project. While design projects are not typically completed abroad, talk to your College of Engineering faculty advisor if you have an international project in mind.
All engineering students are strongly encouraged to plan their study abroad experience well in advance of their departure date. Be in touch with your advisors (both in Study Abroad and in the College of Engineering) early on in the planning process.
If you would like to study abroad during the academic year but can’t seem to find the time, it may be possible to complete some of your course requirements during a summer at the UI, thereby freeing up a semester to study abroad. If you are interested in completing some of your course requirements during the summer, consult with a faculty advisor in your major department about which courses are typically offered during summer sessions. They will be able to help you decide if you can take enough summer coursework to manage studying abroad during the academic year.
There are many opportunities for industrial engineering students to fulfill academic requirements abroad. In general, courses taken abroad can be substituted for UI courses with approval from the appropriate UI department. Consult with a study abroad advisor about getting overseas courses approved for UI requirements. Once you select a program of interest, your study abroad advisor will give you a Credit Approval Form to complete with a College of Engineering academic advisor. (Note that students in the Bachelor’s to Master’s program will need to get approval from both the College of Engineering and from the Graduate School.)
Some courses in the Industrial Engineering (IE) Curriculum will be easier to find overseas equivalents for than others. For instance, it’s relatively easy to find overseas equivalents for your General Education Components, Engineering Fundamentals courses (ENGR:2110 Statics, 2120 Electrical Circuits, and 2130 Thermodynamics), and Elective Focus Area (EFA) courses. (If you plan in advance with a College of Engineering academic advisor, you may be able to complete your entire EFA requirement abroad.) In the past, students have also been able to find substitutions for ENGR:2720 Materials Science and STAT:2020 Probability & Statistics for Engineers. You’ll likely need to complete your senior design course (IE:4600) at the University of Iowa.
If you are completing a business minor through the Management EFA, you may be able to fulfill some of your business course requirements abroad. Just be sure to consult with a College of Business academic advisor about which—and how many—overseas courses you can take for credit toward your minor. (Sometimes there is a limit on the amount of transfer credit that can be used toward a minor.)
Keep in mind that some courses in the IE curriculum (especially those offered during your junior and senior years) are offered once per academic year, and that many are prerequisites for courses you’ll need to take in future semesters. As you plan your study abroad experience, be sure your trip won’t prevent you from completing these prerequisites in time.
Because your General Education Component courses (GECs) are typically lower level, non-specialized courses, it may be easier to find overseas equivalents for your GECs than for some of your upper-level engineering courses.
Language courses are especially good GECs to complete abroad. Of your required 15 GEC semester hours, you can take up to 12 semester hours of select language courses, as long as they are intermediate level or higher. For a list of approved languages, see the College of Engineering’s GEC webpage—linked to above. If you’re interested in taking language courses abroad, information about language-intensive study abroad programs is provided under the “Programs” tab.
Other GECs you might consider finding overseas equivalents for are those that include a cultural component. For instance, courses in approved GEC disciplines like Art History, Communication, Women’s Studies, and Economics are likely taught from varying cultural perspectives around the globe.
Your Elective Focus Area (EFA) is a set of 7 courses (21 semester hours) required for your degree. The Industrial Engineering Department offers several pre-approved EFA plans (with a list of courses that would fulfill the EFA), or students can propose their own, custom EFA. All EFA courses must be advanced-level courses, and some of the course requirements for the recommended EFAs can be quite specialized (i.e. difficult to find equivalents for overseas). Still, it may be possible for you to complete some of your EFAs abroad with the approval of your faculty advisor and the Industrial Engineering Department. If you are completing a custom EFA, you may be able to design it with your study abroad experience in mind. If you are completing one of the pre-approved ;EFAs, research some of the other major advising pages on this site to see if they offer any programs relevant to your focus area. (For instance, if you are completing a Management EFA, check out the advising page for Business majors.)
Study abroad can be a great opportunity to explore new disciplines. While you will not receive credit toward your major for general electives taken abroad, it’s possible to receive credit toward graduation. Talk to an advisor in Study Abroad for information about earning credit for general electives completed overseas.
Study abroad can be expensive. Luckily, various scholarships and grants are available for engineering students interested in gaining international experience. In addition to the various study abroad scholarships offered to UI students through International Programs, eligible students are encouraged to apply for the following scholarships offered through the College of Engineering. Questions about these scholarships should be directed to the Director of Finance in the College of Engineering.
Robert E. Moulds Global Engineering Scholarship
This scholarship is available to students in a declared College of Engineering major that are interested in the international environment and study abroad. Recipients must demonstrate financial need. Preference for these awards will go to undergraduate students interested in a VIPT program or a CoE-sponsored Study Abroad Program. Awards will range in amount from $1,000-$2,500 depending on the number of applicants and the funds available.
Oskvig Global Engineering Scholarship
This scholarship is available to Iowa residents in a declared Engineering major. Recipients must demonstrate interest in working in developing countries, and in working with energy and/or water. Awards will range in amount from $1,000-$2,500 depending on the number of applicants and the funds available.
JW Deegan Fund
Any College of Engineering undergraduate who has committed to an international experience and who demonstrates financial need (as determined by the FAFSA) is eligible for this award. It can be used to assist with airfare expenses. Award amounts will vary based on the number of applicants, the amount available, and the student's estimated cost of airfare.
In addition to fulfilling academic requirements abroad, industrial engineering students are encouraged to intern, conduct research, take language courses, and explore new academic disciplines. The long-term and short-term study abroad programs listed below offer engineering courses that could likely be substituted for some of your major requirements. (See the “Academics” tab for information about overseas course approvals.) Also listed are a few funded internship and research opportunities for engineering students.
If you are interested in earning credit toward a business minor while abroad, information about programs that offer business courses is available under the “Programs” tab of the Business MAP. (Before you enroll in overseas business courses, be sure to consult with a College of Business academic advisor about earning credit toward your minor abroad.)
If you would like to take language courses while abroad, information about language-intensive study abroad programs is available on the General Education Program MAP. You can also search our programs database (using the language filter) for information about language programs.
Swansea University offers engineering courses in several subjects—including Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Product Design, and Aerospace Engineering, among others. Participants in this program take a British Culture & Politics course—which incorporates various local field trips—then enroll in regular courses at the university. You can attend for a semester or for the academic year.
Participants in this 4-week program take two courses from the following disciplines: engineering, business, economics, journalism, communication studies, and beginning Italian. Individual course descriptions are available on the CIMBA website. Typically, the engineering course offered is Statics. (For information about engineering courses that will be offered in the future, contact the CIMBA office, located in the Pappajohn Business Building Suite W230, or email email@example.com.) Faculty and students are drawn from American universities, and the instruction is in English.
The Stanley Awards for International Research
The Stanley Undergraduate and Graduate Awards are given annually to outstanding UI students for the pursuit of learning activities in international studies that are not available on the UI campus. Awards are given to undergraduates who have developed small-scale independent research or fieldwork projects on international topics that require travel abroad, and to graduate students who are in the early stages (pre-proposal stage only) of conducting research abroad for a master’s thesis. Award stipends vary depending on merit and the travel and living costs associated with the research project, but generally they reimburse expenses between $1,000 and $3,000. Awards recipients are typically announced in April. Once the award is offered, recipients must complete their travel within the calendar year.